Facing two county rivals in two days. That was the task at hand for Crawfordsville boys basketball Saturday as the Athenians and Mounties met up for the first time this season in the 15th annual Boys Sugar Creek Classic title game. Early on, as they had done on Friday night, Southmont jumped out to an early 14-4 advantage after one quarter. Then the Athenians woke up. Crawfordsville put together a dominating quarter of their own outscoring the Mounties 18-5 to take a 22-19 lead into halftime. The two county rivals would battle back and forth for the remainder of the game, but when the final buzzer sounded, it was Crawfordsville who stood on top by a singular point and handed Southmont their first loss of the season in a 41-40 victory as they Athenians claimed the Sugar Creek Classic title.
“Something just clicked with out guys after we were down after that first quarter,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “We realized it was time to go and that says a lot about our seniors and how they did whatever it took tonight to get the win. This game is definitely up there for me in terms of just what a fun overall game it was between two really good teams.”
Ian Hensley, who was named the Tournament MVP for his performance, led the Athenians and all scorers in the game with 18 points. Alex Kellerman scored nine for CHS, Mekhi Wallace eight, Ziair Morgan four, and Alex Hernandez two. Pierce and Hensley both knew that the senior leader for Crawfordsville would have to step up when they needed him most, and that’s exactly what Hensley did.
“It comes down to be willing to whatever it takes to win,” Hensley said. “My teammates and coaches have the up-most confidence in me and I knew that I could come back and be great. We just had to run the course and I take pride in being the emotional leader for us and after that first quarter I knew we had to get some momentum in our favor and that’s what was able to happen.”
Pierce has always had high praise for his senior leader and knew that if his team was going to be holding the coveted paddle, he would have to rely on Hensley to play a big role.
“He’s the reason we won and he just does so much out there on the court,” he said. “We expected him to bounce back and he brought the mentality of ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure we win’. I called him out after Friday’s game against North, and he’s a kid who can handle that criticism. He took that in stride and came back and won us the Classic.”
Southmont (8-1 3-0 SAC) suffers their first loss of the season against the Athenians (8-2 1-1 SAC). While the Mounties fell short of their goal of brining home the Sugar Creek Classic title, Southmont coach Jake Turner recognized what a well-played game his team was involved in.
“This was a great game for our kids to be in,” he said. “You have to give credit to Crawfordsville for the win but I thought we could’ve been a little better on the boards tonight. Ian Hensley played a great game. It seemed like he made every little play for them. At the end of the day I’m proud of my guys for the way we battled and were resilient. We haven’t been in a situation like that in the fourth yet this season and we continued to keep playing.”
Avery Saunders led Southmont with 13 points and Logan Oppy added 12 for the Mounties in the loss. While Saunders didn’t have his typical stat line for Southmont in the loss, Turner praised his senior for continuing to fight through the adversity that he faced.
“He’s the number one guy on everyone’s scouting report for everyone we’re going to face,” Turner said. “He got frustrated at times tonight, but I’m proud of the way he continued to play. He’s got a great motor and continued to play hard. When they (Crawfordsville) took him away, I thought that was a chance for some of our other guys to step up. An environment and games like tonight are something we’re going to continue to see moving forward.”
The title for the Athenians is their fourth Sugar Creek Classic Championship in school history. The Athenians with their two wins over the weekend are now on a seven-game winning streak and Pierce sees this as just the beginning for his team.
“Because of how this weekend went for us, this changes everything,” Pierce said. “I’m super proud of our guys for the championship and we just have to continue to keep the ball rolling.”
Crawfordsville and Southmont both return to action on Friday. The Athenians will travel to Bethesda Christian while the Mounties will travel to Seeger for a girl/boy double-header with the Patriots.
2021 All Tournament Team & MVP
MVP: Ian Hensley - CHS
All Tournament Team
Alex Kellerman - Crawfordsville
Avery Saunders - Southmont
Logan Oppy - Southmont
Garrett Morton - Western Boone
Jakob Kirsch - North Montgomery